by Megan Miller
Go to the Next Level with a Fractional CMO
Chief marketing officer – for many the term conjures up an image of a P&G-trained marketing executive found only in a Fortune 100 boardroom. But today’s technology-driven, fast-innovating startups and small to medium-size businesses have the same – or even greater – needs for strategic marketing talent.
Startups, SMBs and more mature midsize businesses seeking growth can all benefit from the insights of a fractional – part-time or temporary – strategic CMO. When budgets or resources are limited, a fractional CMO can help set your organization on a path to success by actively working with the executive team to clarify strategy, market targets and messaging and building a marketing organization that can execute on the strategic plan.
For many companies, marketing is one of seven hats worn by a founder or CEO who has little time or marketing knowledge. Marketing messaging and strategy inevitably take a back seat to development and financial management tasks. Or it may be relegated to a junior marketing manager instructed to develop leads by managing email or social media campaigns. If you are lucky enough to be in a rapidly growing segment or have a unique solution to an acknowledged business challenge, that approach can carry you for a while, but a junior marketing manager often will not have the industry or technology depth needed to build market leadership.
If you are a founder or CEO of a product or services company in the professional services space, you know you are in an environment undergoing rapid change. Treading water is not enough. The growth potential is there, but how can you best tap it, and quickly?
It’s not enough to have strong technology, patents or even a few keystone customer wins. Can you clearly articulate your company’s unique value proposition? Do you have a plan to make it go viral in the industry? How can you turn those early wins into a consistent stream of profitable business? Who are the influencers that can carry your message to the market?
A CMO can help you answer all these critical questions, particularly at important turning points in company growth such as:
- A launch of the business or of a major product offering
- Rebranding the company to position for future growth
- Disrupting a traditional market with a nontraditional solution
- A change in focus to a new segment or vertical market
- A key merger or acquisition
- A geographic expansion or sales team expansion to capture market share
- Last but not least, struggling to find your voice and value proposition in a crowded market
A fractional CMO is an executive role – helping you define strategy and communicate it consistently.
Every business can benefit from the strategic insights of a CMO. A fractional CMO can be a bridge from the current reality to a more productive future. The fractional CMO works closely with founders, CEOs and the executive staff to elevate the marketing effort. In a fractional CMO engagement, Edge marketing executives will typically:
- Put your current business strategy in a holistic context, based on depth of experience in the legal or accounting segments, players and trends.
- Quickly build knowledge of your business, road map, channel strategy and partnerships and make suggestions for improvements or new opportunities.
- Inform the executive team on market trends, analyst viewpoints and the competitive landscape.
- Size the market and build a marketing plan to address the opportunity.
- Prioritize marketing efforts, whether for new website content, events and sponsorships, social media or digital advertising.
- Assess the strength of existing marketing resources in your organization and recommend actions to build out the marketing organization, with the addition of talent or a technology stack.
The greatest challenge most companies face is not a dearth of new ideas, but rather the desire to do everything at once. A strategic CMO can help your organization identify the most advantageous and profitable opportunities at hand and assist you in telling a clear and compelling story about the value you bring to customers and clients. The CMO then sets a tactical plan to keep the focus on your value proposition and bring your story to the marketplace. The fractional CMO will develop a well-oiled marketing and communications machine that can stand the test of time.